Investigators have charged a man with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and other crimes, the acting U.S. attorney for Massachusetts said Wednesday.
Tarek Mehanna, 27, of Sudbury, Massachusetts, traveled overseas, sought training from the Taliban, wanted to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and hoped to kill one or two members of the executive branch of the U.S. government, said Michael K. Loucks, the acting U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. He declined to name the executive branch officials and said they were never in danger. Mehanna was arrested a year ago after being accused of lying to FBI agents in a terrorism investigation, but the latest charges are more serious, Loucks said. Watch Loucks detail the charges Mehanna and co-conspirators planned trips overseas to try to join training camps and kill American soldiers, Loucks said. Mehanna and others traveled to Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen and sought training from groups including the Taliban, he said. They also planned to attack at least one U.S. shopping mall, Loucks said, but that did not happen because they couldn’t obtain the assault weapons they wanted, he said. He didn’t name the mall. Loucks said the men had planned to assault multiple entrances of the mall, and had determined the steps they would take when first responders arrived.
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Mehanna also is charged with using material support and resources in a conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people or to damage property in a foreign country, Loucks said. “I think we’re satisfied that we know every member of this group,” the attorney said. “We do not believe that there are any terrorist cells in this area.”
In addition, Mehanna obtained and watched videos of U.S. soldiers who were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, he said. He also watched videos showing the mutilation of the bodies of U.S. service members who had been killed in Iraq, he said. Mehanna was arrested in November 2008 as he was about to board a flight at Logan International Airport in Boston, Loucks said. A like-minded colleague fled the United States, he said.